2/16/11 - Teams from around the world took advantage of recent warm and stable weather in southern Patagonia, establishing a plethora of new routes and first free ascents between February 7 and 13. But despite the presence of a filming helicopter circling the range, Cerro Torre's southeast ridge saw little additional drama.
With the projected two- to three-day weather window suddenly doubling in size, teams scrambled to match conditions with objectives in a range notorious for some of the globe's worst weather.
Aguja Desmochada, a satellite peak southwest of Fitz Roy, was summited by at least seven climbers on February 9. Americans Josh Wharton and Neil Kauffman climbed a new seven-pitch variation to the right of El Facon on the southwest face. Their route (5.11+ A0) was named CoDa in honor of Jonny Copp and Micah Dash.
Belgian Sean Villanueva and Argentine Cintia Percivati made the first free ascent of Golden Eagle, on the same aspect of Desmochada, grading the crux pitch 5.12b. And on the previously unclimbed southeast face of that peak, Americans Eli Simon and Pete Fasoldt established Circus Pets (650m, 5.10 A0), naming the route in homage to the Percocets that Fasoldt used to cope with pain from a hand injury suffered on an early lead fall.
At the northern end of the Fitz Roy massif, Americans Scott Bennett and Blake Herrington climbed a new route on the west face of Aguja Guillaumet, following a corner and chimney just left of the Padrijo route. Las Vent'uras (550m, 5.11 A0) was characterized by wide and often icy crack systems. After hearing an updated and improved forecast, Bennett and Herrington resupplied for a night in town and hiked back up, this time to the northwest face of Aguja Mermoz, where their initial attempt at repeating an existing route ended in confusion after five (apparently new) pitches. The two reconned on rappel to find the proper line, and subsequently made the second ascent of the 1980s route Cosas Patagonicas (700m, 5.10 A2), freeing the Italian aid line with a few pitches of 5.11.
On Fitz Roy itself, the coveted north pillar route Mate, Poro y Todo lo Demas was completed to the summit by Slovenians Matjaz Dusic and Lovro Vrsnik, three years after first being climbed to the ledge atop the pillar by Bean Bowers and Rolando Garibotti.
In addition, Americans Kate Rutherford and Mikey Schaefer climbed a new route on Fitz Roy’s south face. Details are not yet known—look for a full report soon at Patagonia's Cleanest Line blog.
On Cerro Torre, Canadians Chris Geisler and Jason Kruk made a valiant attempt at a "fair means" ascent of the southeast ridge. Eschewing the use of any of Maestri's (compressor-placed) bolts for upward progress, the pair climbed new terrain to a point on the headwall parallel to, and left of, the bolted-on compressor. After Geisler led through the night for eight hours on the final pitch, deteriorating conditions compelled a descent from just 50m below the top of the rock headwall.
Dates of ascents: February 2011
Sources: Various climbers, pataclimb.com